Note: For your convenience, this is a printer-friendly document.



Urge incontinence is the loss of urine when you have a strong desire to urinate and are unable to reach a bathroom in time. The urge is a signal that it is time to urinate. Your goal is to maintain bladder control until you reach a toilet. A normally functioning bladder can wait until the appropriate opportunity to empty, an unstable bladder can not.

Urge Suppression is a way to help control the sudden urge to urinate so that going to the bathroom is not an emergency. Rushing to the bathroom is the worst thing you can do as it actually causes bladder irritability to increase and interferes with your ability to concentrate on controlling your bladder.

When the urgency strikes, you should use the "urge suppression" technique to help maintain control.

  1. Stop all movement immediately and stand still. Sit down if possible. Remaining still increases your ability to stay in control.
  2. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles quickly and tightly several times. Do not relax the muscles fully between these very quick squeezes. Squeezing your pelvic floor muscles this way signals the bladder to relax and increases your feeling of being in control.
  3. Take a deep breath and relax. Shrug your shoulders and let them go limp. Release the tension in the rest of your body.
  4. Concentrate on suppressing the urge feeling. Some women find distraction an effective technique.
  5. When the strong urgency subsides, walk slowly and calmly to the bathroom. If the urge begins to build again, repeat the above steps. You can also try contracting your muscles as you walk to the bathroom.

Remember: Going to the bathroom is not an emergency!

Questions or comments about this Web site may be sent to
Last updated: 09/09/09
The University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143
Copyright © 2009, The Regents of the University of California.